At a prelude to the annual meeting for our harbor association, we are a condominium a question was presented that I hope has been addressed within this group.  It was not presented to me in a way that offers all the nuances of the concern but...

All know that emergencies are 911 so this deals with those "not quite emergencies".

We have an Harbor Master who is generally onsite 6 days during the season and 4 to 5 days off season.  His hours are approximately 8:00 to 17:00.  There is an assistant with essentially the same hours but days rotate so there is 7 day/week coverage.  During the season there are several liveaboards, all knowledgeable boaters and familiar with the harbor and facilities.  The office phone usually rolls to a recording with the number for the Harbor Master's cell phone given if the call is an emergency.  As a Board we considered this "pretty good" but... there are some holes in this coverage. 

What if:

No cell phone handy.
Harbor Master is not available, he does have a life, and the assistant is not close.
I was not presented with many scenarios to relate but for perspective:  Our harbor is gated, in a remote section of the County, the regulars are familiar to one another but that is only about 60% of familiar people.   Unfamiliar members and their guests, especially when less than "genteel" don't invite introductions and can be intimidating since many of us are of retirement age+.  Picture floating serenely in the pool at 19:00 July 10 and an unfamiliar group of 7 boisterously enters the pool with no consideration to others.  A boat is listing, was this noted in the daily dock walk or is it a new occurrence and a threat to the boat, a fishing boat enters the harbor and is spending more time looking at boats than fishing.  From a perspective of a person alone and over 70 these scenarios have a different meaning than that of one of 40, btdt

Appreciate your reading and thoughts, Tim, a board member at the Harbor and wanting HELP!

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Tim, Not to sure what you mean by a gated harbor?  I don't live in a gated community nor a condo environment, my experience is through yacht clubs here in the northeast.I have also worked as a harbormaster for over 20 years. Not knowing a certain percentage of members even in a gated community shouldn't be a problem, you should be comfortable approaching anyone should you have a concern. If it makes it easier ask a fellow resident to approach with you. Boisterous or any other guests should have been signed in to the property as guests allowing you to approach the member rather than a complete stranger. If your association doesn't have a sign in policy I would recommend one. A listing boat would warrant an immediate call to the owner and the local fire dept. for a pump if harbormaster is not available. Environmental concerns usually will get you help very quickly. The fishing boat looking at boats wouldn't worry me, there are as many reasonable explanations as threatening ones. For instance, new to the harbor and watching depth closely, actually sightseeing and admiring some beautiful boats, watching for signs of bait or fish, Just enjoying a new area of water. If your not having a problem with boats being broken into I'd trust the percentages and bank on the good nature and honesty of people. You can also just record registration numbers and boat names for later reference if you do have problems. I realize at 56 yo my perspectives may be different than yours but I believe there are reasonable and comfortable ways to approach all your concerns. Remember, first you are never alone, you are part of a community and just because it is on the water or on a boat does not make it the exclusive concern of the harbormaster, local law enforcement and fire have equal jurisdiction as well. Use them. 

Some video surveillance may help discourage the human element.

Good Morning Tim

I know this is the obvious question, but has your association considered hiring a security guard to cover the Harbor Masters off hours? I did google your yacht club and see what you mean about being remote. I realize that a full time security guard can be cost prohibitive, but perhaps you could reach out to a local college. College kids are always strapped for cash and a part time gig where they can sit and get some homework done in between making the rounds would be attractive. They might even be able to work this into a work-study opportunity and get credits for it.  

Thanks for the responses.  A further query indicates that posting phone numbers for the HM  and assistant might help.  We don't really have SERIOUS issues but only communication and notification issues.  For instance how does one call the HM after hours so both posting numbers as well as alternatives will probably suffice.  The price of signage is pretty cheap to assure a level of confidence.  Even as remote as we seem we have found 911 responses for live aboard emergencies to be under 10 minutes by a good factor.  Actually we may be better served than some of the upper river harbors not because of proximity but because of highway access.


One marina I was at shared a list of boat owners and their phine numbers. I thought that was a good idea, I usually share my number with a few of my neighbors. 

Tim was thinking more about this, does your club have a crash pump for emergencies? They are really affordable if cost is spread out among all your members and can be the difference between a boat sinking or floating. They are easily set up with wheels if that would work better for an older demographic and one boat saved is worth every penny spent. Every facility had one back in the days of wooden boats but I am amazed that some places think they are not necessary anymore. We also had a large spotlight on our YC front deck and a night watch requirement where two members would take a midnight-sun up watch once a year and shine the light on anyone entering the mooring field after reasonable hours. We ran it from mid May through mid September and allowed people to sign up for preferred dates and then had a lottery to fill the rest. No member could be chosen in the lottery 2 years in a row. Most of us volunteered every year and would fire up the gas grill about 2am for a few burgers and beers. Never had a theft problem while other clubs in the area did. 5 hours a night spent to secure the club was all it took. Local police loved the idea as we had less incidents than any other club.

We do have an emergency pump and are working on organizing emergency boxes rather than have the supplies in the storage shed separately on shelves.  These would include sinking recovery items like pump, floatation bags, oil boom etc.  Our pump-out boat is equipped with a fire nozzle and each dock has the mandated number fire extinguishers. I doubt many have had training using the extinguishers, a good exercise to be scheduled to use out of date extinguishers.  The harbor and neighboring boats are still waiting on settlement from this Spring's fire.  Anyone interested in knowing the Carrier PM me.

 We probably should buy a couple of AEDs and station them at the two Clubhouses.

From the personnel safety standpoint it doesn't seem there is really a problem other than the things that go bump in the night.  The gates are far enough from the harbor to deter random entree on foot.

Thanks for the suggestions and help.


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